Category: Latest

AFCON 2017: The Quarter-Finals

Blimey. The best of the four AFCON 2017 finals’ groups, Group B, will be unrepresented in the semi-finals. The worst, Group D, could yet provide the finalists. Mark Murphy tries to explain… Burkina Faso 2 Tunisia 0 Aristide Bance. Christian Benteke in a grated-cheese wig. But a Burkinabe cult hero before becoming a real one to consign Tunisia to a fifth (FIFTH!) consecutive defeat in an AFCON quarter-final. The “England of Africa,” you might say, but don’t. Bance’s impact may be the abiding memory of AFCON 2017. The sparse Libreville crowd were no collective shrinking violet. But the sight...

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FA Cup Shocks & The Two Faces Of The National League

The more things change, the more they stay the same. When the television cameras of the BBC visited Gander Green Lane in January 1989 for Sutton United’s FA Cup Third Round match against Coventry City, it was a very different place to today, a bowl-shaped ground flanked with trees, a completely idiosyncratic ground and completely unfamiliar territory for a visiting club that had won the FA Cup two years earlier. That bowl shape has gone now, replaced by familiarly utilitarian covered terracing behind each goal. And something else has gone too. The grass. The mud so commonly invoked by...

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The FA Cup Fourth Round: Awake, At Last

We have been damned by mediocrity in the FA Cup in recent times, but yesterday afternoon the Fourth Round of the competition truly sparkled. At the summmit of the list of achievements sits Lincoln City’s three-one win over Championship pacesetters Brighton & Hove Albion. They joined Colchester United, Yeovil Town, Blyth Spartans, Telford United, Kidderminster Harriers, Crawley Town and Luton Town as a non-league team to have reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup since 1945. Furthermore, they thoroughly merited their victory against an admittedly under-strength Brighton team, coming back from a goal behind to win with room...

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AFCON 2017: The Story So Far

“Mixed” puts a fractionally positive spin on the last week-and-a-half’s AFCON football in Gabon (and a huge spin on the football BY Gabon). And must hope for rather than expect the on-pitch spectacle to improve. Largely because there has been a direct correlation between quality of pitch and match. On paper (possibly a better surface than Port-Gentil), Groups B and D were of comparable quality. On Port-Gentil’s crumbling sand (all-the-more-infuriating as it is the best of the four tournament stadia), Group D was horrible. On Franceville’s relative carpet, Group B was the best-in-show. Group B winners Senegal are thus...

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Podcast 82: Never Go Back

With Nigel Clough considering the possibility of returning to The City Ground to manage Nottingham Forest at what must surely be the worst possible time, this week’s Twohundredpercent podcast takes a look at that old footballing adage that one should never go back. Is it pure nostalgia for clubs to bring back old faces, or is this where the unsentimentality of the business of football meets the more romantic notions of supporters? Some clubs appear to be serial offenders in this regard, but might this entire phenomenon just be a matter of clubs going for the popular vote when...

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